Posts tagged ‘love’

March 4, 2012

Pick A Topic

by Zen Gray

Zen Gray asking questions?Since I took a little hiatus from my blog, I keep thinking about what I should write next. So much has happened and I’ve got so many topics and questions to choose from. My list looks something like this:

1. Pre-wedding and post-wedding habits and observations.

2. Holiday family stress and the escape tactics I’ve used.

3. Recognizing my personal weight gain/weight loss habits in my significant relationships.

4. Feeling stagnant and getting fatter.

5. Getting psyched up for “the diet” and how it affects my husband, friends and family.

6. Renewal of faith in exercise.

7. The importance of keeping in the right heart-rate zones.

8. Jumping from one diet philosophy to the next.

9. How can you know what works? How long do you give a program before you determine it’s not right for you?

10. When tragedy strikes, how do we comfort ourselves?

11. When should you go with the flow and when should you MAKE things happen?

12. Should we keep questioning our choices? Or accept all we do and just move forward?

13. Rituals. Morning time, daytime, before bed. How important are they?

14. How hard should we try for a baby? What will THAT do to me, my body, my career, my life, my relationship?

15. Are these even the right questions?

See what I mean? There’s a lot of stuff rolling around my brain. And this is just a SHORT list.

I’m trying to dedicate at least one hour a week to blogging right now since I’ve decided to apply for a PhD in Positive Psychology (HOW COOL IS THAT?!!!! RIGHT???!!!) and I have to study for the GRE now, on top of doing my taxes, teaching group fitness and of course personal training and my freelance writing gigs. Yeah, yeah, Gray… you’re so busy. Pffft. I just need to dedicate some time ON MY CALENDAR to writing my blog and I’ll do it. The calendar really is a magical thing when used properly.

OK, that’s it for today since I have to teach a 6:30am spin class tomorrow morning. I’ll have to explore some of those ideas a little more next time… but would love it if I got some feedback about what would interest YOU.

Love and thanks,

~Zen

 

 

April 6, 2011

Options

by Zen Gray

Thankfully, there are always options.

decisions

We can choose to be pissed at people that play unfairly… or we can let it go and focus on other opportunities. I’ve seen many people choose to hold onto anger and bitterness for years only to have it cause health problems. It’s like that quote, “Holding a grudge is like drinking poison and waiting for the other person to die.”

I decided a long time ago that I wouldn’t be a grudge-holder. It’s exhausting and I’m too perky for that.

David and I had a great workout on Monday night and really let go of the wedding contest disappointment. We decided instead to focus on the options that we have now. We can have this wedding any day we want, any where we want and have as many (or as few) as we want. We can do a beach wedding where none of the guests wear shoes. We could do a party in a mountain lodge where everyone wears pajamas and we have hot cocoa and s’mores. We can do a destination wedding or a get married during a little cruise. Or Vegas! And I can pick a dress to wear from any designer I like! Lots of ideas sound fun to me and I’m not attached to any of them.

I think it’s the same for exercise. If someone gave you one routine and said, “This is it. Don’t deviate. Go!” You might find it a little tedious and restrictive. But when you explore all the fun classes and equipment and routines available to you, you’ll enjoy mixing it up so much more! Sometimes I want to power through and lift as hard as I can. Sometimes I want to just go for a long walk and not kill myself over the intensity. Sometimes, I want to do a circuit with David. Sometimes I want to just crank up my cardio and zone out with my ipod. Sometimes I want to go dancing. Sometimes I just try to keep up with my puppy (which we’ve decided is a Rhodesian Ridgeback and German Shepherd mix and LOVES to play for hours or sprint like she’s on a lion hunt).

I think what’s important is that we recognize that there are many paths to achieve the same goal but much of our journey depends upon our attitude. Lots of ways to get married and lots of ways to get healthy!  We can choose to enjoy the triumphs or we can bitch about inconveniences. (Although, I think that acknowledging my pissed-off feelings for a moment is fine as long as I don’t wallow in them for too long.)

So go forth and frolic in your favorite way… and I’ll keep you posted on the wedding ideas. 🙂

 

April 4, 2011

Meh.

by Zen Gray

We didn’t win the wedding… and I’m really ok with that.Absolut Bullshit

What I’m NOT ok with is that they never posted the voting numbers and apparently we didn’t even come in the “Top 5” number of votes?

*cough*

Lame.

 
Anyway, we would have really liked to have had a big wedding with tons of friends and family but it’s most likely going to be a small one now. But, my best friend had a small wedding and it’s still one of my favorites so I’m sure it will be awesome either way.

Could we still figure out how to have a big wedding if we wanted? Probably. But like anything, David and I weigh the options, “Hmmm…  a huge party or a down payment on a house?” In every scenario, the house payment wins.

But it got me thinking about weighing the options.

“Do I get more sleep or do I work out this morning?”

“Do I eat fast food or go hungry until I can get access to a healthier lunch?”

“Do I satisfy my craving or give in and start over tomorrow?”

I think we’re all faced with these choices constantly and I have to admit giving into sleep, fast food and sugar cravings on more than one occasion. And sometimes, like yesterday, I’m just bummed out and want a little comfort food.  (Because dammit… Nutella on a spoon was necessary to ease my disappointment after that bogus wedding contest result.)

But you know what I said to myself before I even put that chocolately goodness to my lips?

“OK. I’m going to enjoy this. And then tomorrow, I’m working out in the morning with my class AND I’m working out with David when he gets home from work. PLUS, I’m implementing a “no sugar in the house” rule until my fitness contest is over. My weekly cheat hour will remain in place but it will be sugar-free until then.”

Will I be perfect until the end of July when I compete? Probably not. But having a plan is better than none, and enjoying a treat now and then is better than “eating around the craving” by eating everything BUT the yummy tidbit that I really want.

So, just remember when you’re making a choice between the margarita and the guacamole, that delicious mile-high sandwich or the chips, the mac n’ cheese or the ribeye, or the all-you-can-eat pancake special; it’s just one choice and it’s just one meal and it’s just one plan to adjust your lifestyle to recover from the not-so-healthy option you might have picked.

But please… choose the option to keep TRYING to get back on track. (Even though you’d like to wallow in self-pity for a little bit first.) We’re all dealt some pretty crappy crap to deal with at times and I’m the first to condone a moment  of “Bitter, party of one!” before getting back on the bright-side bandwagon. (It’s not healthy to keep it all in. Go ahead and be pissed! But just for a bit. Let it go, ya know?)

Mae West QuoteMae West Headshot

*Sigh*

Well, David’s home so we’re off to the gym.

Have I mentioned that I’ve noticed workouts are especially powerful when I’m pissed off?

Have a great night, everyone 🙂

March 30, 2011

“I Don’t Feel Like It”

by Zen Gray

It’s not often that I do my hair and make-up.

Jessica Simpson in a baseball hat

Jessica Simpson wearing my work attire.

I’m lucky in that I get to wear sweats and a baseball cap to work practically every day so when I’m not only tired, but busy, AND dolled up for some meeting I had… I REALLY don’t want to go to the gym and get my workout in and get all sweaty and gross. But you know what? Even though I bitched the whole way over there… I felt great and so proud of myself after that workout. I even did a personal best on chest press. Go me!

It really helped that David was ready to go when I got home. It would have been very easy for him to talk me out of the upper body workout we did tonight. All he’d have to say was, “Would you rather (fill in the blank)?” And I would have done it. I’m really thankful that I can count on him. I wish that everyone had such a supportive partner and/or buddy.

 

 

 

Which makes me ask the questions:

  • Is your significant other HELPING you?
  • If not, can you find a way to get them on board your program?
  • Can you turn to friends or family instead if your partner is just not on your “get healthy bandwagon” just yet?

I know sometimes it sucks to get yourself to the gym. Try to have all your workout gear ready to go before you can justify your way out of it… and get some support from SOMEONE. Because when it comes down to it, you’re NEVER sorry you exercised, are you?

 

March 29, 2011

Radio Show

by Zen Gray

Last week, Sophia Venable from LA Talk Radio had me on her show.

Zen Gray on LA Talk Radio

I just listened to the podcast and laughed to myself because we’re both so passionate about health that we segued a gazillion times: relationships, weight loss, anorexia, bulimia, aging gracefully, cosmetic surgery, eating tricks to make you feel full, artificial sweeteners, alkalizing the body for health, how dogs help you live longer, finding time to exercise, slowing metabolism, hormones, scale vs. measurements, kids’ fitness, being a role model for your kids, chronic dehydration, and more. We definitely could have talked for several more hours and still kept up the frenetic pace. It was so much fun! (Click here if you’d like to listen.)

All of those topics rally around that which I have dedicated my life’s work: to living a healthier and happier life.

There are times when I doubt myself because I think, “Who am I? I’m not a doctor. Maybe I need more schooling before I can really give any advice…” But listening to that show made me realize that I actually know a lot of stuff and that I barely scratched the surface of information I have archived in my brain during that interview.  I know that I can always learn more… but I don’t have to know EVERYTHING before sharing strategies that I’ve tested out either on myself or my clients, right?!

Overcoming that inertia, the inaction that comes from thinking about criticism or failure, is a mental exercise that I’ve worked on my entire life and I’m sure I’ll continue to do so. When I was a senior in high school, I read and loved Shakespeare’s Hamlet because he was the classic example of the plight of the intellectual; thinking about all the angles and outcomes and preparing for every scenario so much that you just might end up doing nothing. And having a family of lawyers, the phrase “cover your ass” is liberally and possibly over-applied in my life, too.

I’ve been taught to worry about what might happen and how I could prepare for possibly risky situations. But if I’ve learned ANYTHING in my life… it’s that you can’t possibly prepare for every single outcome and sometimes it’s better to just DO SOMETHING and have faith that you can correct mistakes as you go along. Preparation is great, certainly, but not at the expense of inaction. The most successful people out there are the ones that aren’t afraid to make TONS of mistakes.

How’s this for a great quote?

Wayne Gretsky quoteSo true. Thanks, Wayne 🙂 I’ll get back to writing my book now.

March 25, 2011

Thankful

by Zen Gray

hearts

It’s easy to focus on the negative– like those parts of your body that you’d like to change… but how about the parts you LOVE?!

How about all the people in your life that LOVE you? That you have access to healthy food and clean water?

For technology that allows you to learn practically ANYTHING? That we’re living at a time when ANYTHING is possible?

On this happy Friday in March, I just wanted to put out some good vibes… not only to help others, but to remind myself what a magical thing it is to be alive.

I’m thankful that:

  • My family is healthy and loving and thriving.
  • I have a wonderful fiance that loves me, supports me, makes me better and makes me laugh.
  • My puppy is sweet, soft, quiet and finally house trained.
  • I live in Southern California where wonderful weather, farmers markets and active outdoor lifestyles are possible year-round.
  • People are willing and happy to help me figure out how to use my smart phone and other techie stuff that makes me nuts.
  • Even though I don’t always feel like it, I’m lucky that I can run, jump, lift, dance and play.
  • I get to see other people live healthier and happier lives because of my efforts, advice and enthusiasm!

What are you thankful for?

 

March 24, 2011

Swearing Like a Sailor

by Zen Gray
I hate cell phone Painting by Arisa Niwa

"I hate cell phone" Painting by Arisa Niwa

Although belting out “F*CK!!!” feels inescapable sometimes, I make it a rule not to do it at Disneyland.

Since I’m definitely not at the Magic Kingdom today but dealing with a smart phone that refuses to download any of my email, I am letting many colorful phrases roll off my tongue. (Yes, I’m talking to you T-Mobile and MyTouch HTC!!!!) I know I’ll eventually get this resolved and I’m usually very composed — but it’s been four months now and I’ve reached my patience threshold.

Just as I was about to throw this infuriating device against the wall, David came home from work. I must have had a crazed look on my face because his eyes got really wide and he immediately grabbed the puppy and went for a walk. By the time he got back, my head was in my hands and I was making noises like I was in a bad martial arts flick.

I got up to take a shower and by the time I got out, David was on the phone with T-Mobile customer service. Listening to him deal with one of their reps made me laugh and even though we haven’t made any progress, I already feel much better. I love him for adding levity to a frustrating situation and for being able to keep it together while I’m losing it. And he’s totally amused by my uncharacteristic freak out.

It’s so nice to have someone help me with my balance when I can’t quite seem to do it on my own.

Time to go for a walk 🙂

 

March 23, 2011

Is This Normal?

by Zen Gray

cartoon scale

When looking at the computer, are you sticking out your chin and neck a bit?

Do you sometimes get a pain in the back of your shoulder or neck? (Hmmm.)

Do you slouch?

Is one side of your body stronger or bigger than the other?

Have you ever had low back pain?

Are you getting less than eight hours of sleep?

Are you slightly overweight?

Are you really overweight?

Are you exhausted at the end of the day?

Do you eat to feel better?

Do you eat because you’re bored?

Do you eat because you’re lonely?

Have you gained weight since you’ve been in a relationship?

Have you gained weight because you’re not in a relationship and you want to be?

Do you like wine?

Do you like chocolate?

Do you like pasta?

Do you like pizza?

Have you always had a weight problem?

Have you never had a weight problem before now?

Are you getting older and feel like your body isn’t responding like it used to?

 

Today I had a client ask me if she was normal because she answered “yes” to a few of these questions.

Of course, I told her she was a total freak because the rest of us are eating whatever we want and walking around pain-free in our skinny jeans.

 

 

March 22, 2011

Soft Addictions

by Zen Gray

Do you love a certain show(s) and watch it religiously? Are you compelled to check Facebook first thing in the morning? Are you always holding a cup of coffee? Do you NEED to shop? Are you a little too good at video games?

These behaviors are actually considered soft addictions — a term coined by Judith Wright to describe “activities, moods or ways of being, avoidances, and things-edible and consumable but which do not pose a grave health disease risk – rather, they have the most effect on personal time and productivity.”

Internet AddictonApparently, over 90% of Americans have soft addictions and I’m not surprised by that statistic at all. I know I enjoy my excessive Internet browsing as much as the next person… and my fiance and I always turn on a movie when we eat dinner together. It’s just what we do to relax.

But then I thought, “How much more could I get done if I stopped watching movies every night and stopped checking facebook every morning?” I bet it’s a lot.

But then I think, “Hey, I need to relax, too!”

So, there’s a little battle going on in my head about the benefits of relaxation vs. productivity. Am I escaping reality when I really need to dig in and get something done?

I know there’s so much more to this topic but I just want to throw these questions out there:

  1. What are your soft addictions?
  2. Why do you do them?
  3. Is it possible that they’re going beyond stress relief so that they’re problematic to your health or happiness?
  4. Could you make a small change to your habits so you have more control over the compulsion?
March 18, 2011

Everyone’s Got Stuff

by Zen Gray

It’s a beautiful sunny Friday… and the day after St. Patrick’s Day. I’ve noticed a few hung-over people at the gym today but not many.

David and I are four weeks into our diet/workout plan and I’ve lost an average of 2 pounds per week. (I started at 147.9 lbs and now I’m 140.5 lbs.) I’m quite pleased with those stats since I wasn’t sure how my body would respond to the gluttonous cheat hour… but apparently, you can’t do that much damage in an hour because still I’m losing weight and feeling pretty good. I have to add that I’ve started teaching more classes, though, and I’m definitely sweating a couple more times a week than just my evening workouts with David.

But… oh, man I’m sore. I wake up sore in my low back every day.  And I’m not sure if I can place all the blame on that chiropractor that first “adjusted” my back. A few years ago, I was given a free adjustment from a chiropractor (even though I had no back pain… I was told it was a good “preventive” thing to do). And within a couple weeks, I was walking tilted side-ways with so much pain that it took me 45 minutes to get from the adjustment table to the floor. That doctor told me that my new shoe inserts were causing the problem.

Now, before I get all the chiropractors upset… let me just say that I went to orthopedic surgeons and acupuncturists before another chiropractor that one of my client’s recommended showed me how to do a couple exercises that fixed the problem in a couple days. The second chiropractor, Dr. Gary Jacob, was fantastic and knew what he was doing and didn’t even have to touch me to help me. He looked at the x-ray the first place did and said, “Oh! You’re one of the few people that has kind of a 6th lumbar vertebrae… actually, it’s not a fully formed L5 that act like two separate vertebrae so it can slip around once you’ve loosened it up. You should have never been adjusted… and now you’ll have to tighten up your low back again. Don’t bend forward for two weeks and do these couple exercises…” He said it was some kind of Spondylolistheses, which is Greek for “slippery vertebra”.

Awesome, right?

That was four years ago when I first had the problem and I’ll ALWAYS have to do these exercises and be aware of my low back issues. So even though I’m a personal trainer, even though I’ve done triathlons and marathons, even though I’m active all the time… I’ve got stuff. We’ve all got stuff. And yes, I’ll have to deal with it all the time and it’s a pain in the butt (or the back) but I figure it’s just like brushing my teeth. I just add it to the list of things I’ve got to do every day and I don’t take it personally and I don’t let it hold me back. Sure some people have it better… but I’m thankful because a lot of people have it a lot worse.

***If you’ve been bitching about some of your stuff, I challenge you to change your perspective. Take a moment to consider how much worse it COULD be and try not to make your stuff some kind of “the-world’s-against-you”conspiracy to hold you back from better health, love or prosperity. THEN, take a moment to be thankful for all the great stuff in your life!***

If you practice this perspective shift on a regular basis, I promise you’ll enjoy a much happier and more fulfilling life.

Wishing you lots more great stuff,

~Zen

March 17, 2011

For Love and Money

by Zen Gray

Have you ever lost sleep worrying about the bills?

The reason why I’m bringing up financial issues in this blog is because I believe that money troubles are another symptom that life is not in balance. And when life’s not in balance it WILL affect your body… and NOT in a good way. Studies show that if you stress, you’ll gain more belly fat. Other studies show that if you don’t get enough sleep, you’ll eat more. And still other studies show that if you and your partner don’t have money strategies that mesh, then it’s the number one cause of divorce! For those reasons, let’s talk about money.

Thankfully, I haven’t felt the sting of credit-card debt for a while now. But I’m re-reading a book called Secrets of the Millionaire Mind by T. Harv Eker and he talks a lot about your “financial blueprint” – the unconscious money strategies you’ve learned that are either working for you… or they’re not.

I grew up in a middle class family and I was taught that talking about money was “tacky” and there were never budgets. My mom would often buy a bunch of clothes on sale and bring them home and we’d take back what wouldn’t fit. I don’t remember one discussion about money when I was growing up except that I was told it’s rude to ask about money. Oh, and I used to win coloring contests as a kid and was told to “put the money in the bank”. I vaguely remember having this savings account and then my great grandmother left me $1000 which was added to the savings account– but when I went to pull out money in college, my parents told me that they used it for my tuition. That seems totally fair — except for the fact that I thought it was mine to use for what I wanted so I felt like I saved my money… for no reason. I’m SURE that experience carried over into my adult life because until recently, I’ve never had a savings account. Why would I? On some emotional level, it was pointless to save.

I’ve never been that great with money but I was blessed with a family that really took care of me. The only problem is that I didn’t learn effective financial strategies on my own and quickly got into debt once I left home. After YEARS of turmoil, I’ve finally started to educate myself about how to MANAGE my money. Eker suggests opening a “Financial Freedom” bank account where you deposit 10% of all your income (after taxes), to create a “Financial Freedom” jar in your home to deposit SOMETHING in it every day (even if it’s just a single penny), and to have a “play” account or jar with 10% of your income. Lastly, he wants you to open up four more accounts for Long Term Savings For Spending, Education, Giving and Necessities. Here’s the percentages:

10% Financial Freedom Account and/or jar

10% Play Account and/or jar

10% Long-Term Savings For Spending Account

10% Education Account

10% Give Account

50% Necessities Account

Even if I just have one dollar, I’m supposed to manage that dollar!  Eker says, “This action alone will send a message to the universe that you are ready for more money. Of course, if you can manage more, manage more.”

To keep my sanity, to whittle my waistline, to build some wealth, and to keep the peace with my fiance — I’m willing to give it a try. Of course, there’s a bunch of other strategies that I can implement, but I’m starting small so I can feel successful at mastering one thing at a time… much the same way I train my clients.

Perhaps because I’m a Taurus, I picture myself as a bull psyching myself up by taking small steps, then slowly they become bigger and faster and soon I’m this powerful force that can bulldoze my way through any obstacle. Of course, sometimes there’s a pretty red scarf waving around and my attention gets diverted but that’s just a part of the game. Sometimes we get distracted, sometimes we spend too much, sometimes we have a cookie… we must simply refocus and try again, right?!

To your health, wealth and happiness!

~Zen

March 14, 2011

“How was your year?”

by Zen Gray

That was the greeting from my accountant today when I saw him about my taxes.

My first response,”Great!” needed an amendment —  “in many ways, however, not exactly the best year financially.”

After all, you can’t pull the wool over the tax guy’s eyes.  I’m not sure when I learned the habit of always answering in an upbeat, positive way. It’s probably a Tony Robbins thing. Sometimes, I really am great — but sometimes I’m sure it’s part “fake it ’til you make it” and part, “I’m sick of hearing people whine about their problems. Why don’t they focus on solutions?” I want to be a person that focuses on succeeding… on possibilities.

I’m pretty proud of the fact that I paid off all of my debt last year. However, 2010 was more about personal rather than financial triumphs. Last spring I was SICK of attracting men that I just couldn’t end up marrying. But I had kept their old love letters and photos in what I called the box.

All innuendo aside, the box was full of love, obsession, heartache, good hair days, great tans, romantic gestures, some questionable fashion choices and, of course, drama. I always thought I would hold on to the box and finally throw it out after I got married.

Realizing that I needed to make some changes, I took a second look at that ominous cube of memories. Why was I holding on to these things? Did these reminders serve me in some way? Was I afraid of getting rid of these love tokens? I think I was scared that I would never find that intense passion again and perhaps I would have to just be content with the fact that someone loved me once that way… even though each relationship had been broken and was clearly not what I wanted anyway.

Keeping that box, I realized, was EXACTLY like settling and I was NOT READY to give up on love.

As soon as it was gone, I felt lighter.  (Oddly enough, I effortlessly lost a few pounds, too.)  And a few months later, I met David — my own personal super hero. (I’ll have to tell you about his special powers in another episode.) A few months after that, I ran my first marathon in Honolulu, got engaged and got a puppy!

Yep. I’d say it was a very good year… even if I’m not quite ready to retire just yet.

March 13, 2011

The Wedding Contest

by Zen Gray

About a month ago, David and I became finalists in a contest to win a wedding. Can you imagine how wonderful it would be to get married and have all of your friends and family there WITHOUT having to freak out about the cost of the reception site, the ceremony, the dress, the bridesmaid’s dresses, the flowers, the tuxes, the catering, the menus, the cake, the DJ, the videographer, the photographer, the album, the wedding coordinator, the event planner, the transportation and even the honeymoon suite? It would be AMAZING, right?!!!

Well, we’ve got a great shot because we’re one of twenty five couples that could win this event called “The Ultimate Wedding Experience.” We had to create a video and write a short essay and get approved by the powers that be… and we did. To vote for us, please click here. (Please enjoy our puppy’s cameo and remember that I never claimed to be a singer.)

Today just happens to be the last day for people to vote. They don’t post how many votes each couple has but they do allow people to post comments under the video. I’m not exactly sure how I feel about that. Does that mean they’ll just pick the couple they like the best and not even care about the voting? Is it really the number of COMMENTS that make a difference? If it is, then we’re screwed because some guy dressed in drag to re-enact his first date has over 200 comments to our paltry 90 comments. And what are the judges looking for? For a couple that looks like they’re in love? To the couple that looks most desperate for help? For a couple most connected to all the sponsors? You just don’t really know.

And that made me think… so many times, you just don’t know what people are looking for and what their criteria is for choosing the way they do. There’s no reason to take things personally if someone isn’t looking for your background or type on an audition or job interview or even a love interview (a date). All you can do is be yourself and do your best to do the things that make you happy. It sounds so simple – but I forget sometimes.

Can I just say that I really want to win this wedding? I really do. I embrace this possibility for my love, my family and my friends and have visions of laughing and dancing with David. However, I’m so grateful for the many blessings in my life already… winning this contest would just be more buttercream icing on the wedding cake.

Wishing YOU much love and happiness and unlimited possibilities!

~Zen

February 17, 2011

Post Valentine’s Glow

by Zen Gray

It’s the day after Valentine’s

And all through the house

Are goodies of chocolate

given by your spouse.

We know the boys mean well though, don’t we? My fiance managed to find me dark chocolate covered almonds, which are tasty as well as heart healthy with antioxidants, flavanols and magnesium.

Are you still nibbling on chocolate treats or have you banished them yet? With my fitness competition diet in full swing, I admit that a little chocolate felt totally decadent on Sunday night (when we decided to celebrate Valentine’s.)

It’s so interesting how my perspective shifts on things like food and exercise. For example, I used to think that running 2 miles was quite an accomplishment. Now after running a marathon, I think that 2 miles is a decent warm up. With my food consisting of chicken breast, oatmeal, protein powder, brown rice, yams, white fish and green veggies, now I think that marinades and sea salt are totally indulgent. Weird.

And then I wonder, “Is it normal to think about food this much?” For those times that I’m in the best shape, I have to say that planning my meals becomes a necessary evil. I’m sorry to say that great abs don’t just happen. At least not to me or anyone I know, especially for those of us celebrating more than one 29th birthday. (Have I mentioned that I plan to be perpetually 29? At least for ten more years. Then I will claim to be in my early thirties until I have to get cataract surgery.)

I’m realizing that much of my motivation for diet and exercise comes from wanting to LOOK youthful. (Apparently, I’ve got some vanity issues but I’m trying to be honest.) But I also have this devotion to balance:  celebrating life (with food!) and maintaining good health.

I don’t want to be one of those starving actresses who look AMAZING on the red carpet because I think that takes too much work and it negates one of my favorite parts of living – dining with family and friends.

I just saw Moulin Rouge again and I think that Nicole Kidman looks gorgeous in those corsets – but she gets paid a lot to be hungry.

Perhaps if I had her lifestyle and wardrobe, I could easily amuse myself with week-long spa treatments and trips to exotic islands instead of food.

Or how about Natalie Portman in Black Swan? I hope that most women walked away from that movie realizing that her character was sick and her body unnaturally thin because that is what is expected of a prima ballerina that devotes her life to ballet.

The following questions are very important to me and I ask all my clients: Do you need to be as ripped and lean as a leather-clad Hollywood action heroine? Are you willing to do all the work and miss out on all the tasty food that everyone around you is eating? If the answer is no, then I think we should stop comparing ourselves to the photoshopped, air-brushed, professionally dressed, primped and coiffed Hollywood elite. If looking at fashion magazines makes you feel ashamed or disappointed with your body — then stop it.

I just pulled a few images of some of my favorite celebs I think look sexy, happy and healthy: Eva Mendes, Kim Kardashian, Scarlett Johannson and even Queen Latifa.  I’m pretty sure that most of us could still be thrilled to look like this, right?

All I’m saying is, you’ve got choices. If you want to be shredded like Angelina Jolie in an action film, then go for it. But don’t bitch about how hard the workouts are or how you can’t have pizza anymore. (And depending upon your body type, you might STILL not get the results you want because you’re not Angelina.)

My goal right now is to do ONE fitness competition and know how to share that knowledge with anyone who wants to be that disciplined, too. After the competition, who knows?

I guess I just want to be healthy… and for me that means enjoying celebrations with my sweetheart and my family, my curves, my workouts, discovering new healthy vegetable dishes and even the occasional cleanse to balance out some festive eating. But I know that I can’t get down to 12-13% body fat for a competition if I celebrate too much.

But what’s Valentine’s day without a little chocolate as well as a lot of love?

January 25, 2011

I Heart Cupcakes

by Zen Gray

I don’t know about you, but if I’m going to start a diet I usually give myself a few days of “preparation” before I actually begin it. Unfortunately, my few prep days typically turn into, “Oh, I better eat this now because I won’t be able to while I’m back on the wagon…”

I’ve noticed this lovely phenomenon happening last week. While waiting for my coach to get back to me about what fitness competition I’m going to do, I’ve been having a food free-for-all. I know once I’m committed to a diet that I’ll stick to it, but that eating plan hasn’t officially started, so I’m in limbo land where chocolate cupcakes dance upon my counter tops.

Perhaps that doesn’t sound like such a huge deal since I still workout and teach spin classes every week.  But even as an active person, high carb/sugary food messes me up. It’s not just the added pooch (which I could contribute to monthly hormonal chick stuff) but increasingly pissy moods and aches here and there.

I’m kind of ashamed to admit it, but there it is. I eat lots of chocolate sometimes. And David, my fiance, loves me so much that he wants to get me WHATEVER MAKES ME HAPPY. He sees my face light up at the mention of dessert. So, I have to try DOUBLY hard to say no… both to him and to myself… when I’m being more strict with my diet. He’s what you’d call an enabler… and I love him for it. Ha! And that’s one of the reasons why love can make me fat.

BUT because David loves me so much, he has made a deal with me. As soon as my coach sets the fitness competition date (one of my New Year’s Resolutions), then we’ll start whittling down my body fat and David promises to refuse my pleas for dessert when I’ve committed to a strict dieting phase. (I must note here, though, that my competition diet WILL include a cheat HOUR once a week so I will be able to eat dessert… just not as often as I’d like.)

So, here’s my question to you:

If you’ve gained weight in your relationship, are you being enabled or are you the enabler?

As you know, I won’t judge you no matter what. I believe that everyone has struggles. It takes courage to fess up to your weaknesses or mistakes and then ask for help. If you’re dealing with some issues, talk to SOMEONE about them and look for guidance. Even the best athletes in the world need a coach, right?

Sending love to you and all your perfect imperfections.

~Zen

January 11, 2011

Where did all my friends go?

by Zen Gray

I love being in love. I get all wrapped up in it sometimes and disappear from the world in a sappy pink bubble o’ love. I’ll find ways of spending more time together with my sweetheart and put off something that I’ll “just do tomorrow.”

Because doesn’t sleeping in together sound so much better than getting up for a workout? Isn’t celebrating with a little wine is so much more appealing than just having water? Doesn’t cuddling on the couch feel so much more comfy than taking a walk after dinner? And it’s no big deal if I just call someone back tomorrow, right?

With that kind of logic, I not only gained weight while being in love but I lost an important part of my life. Friends I used to see and talk to on a regular basis went weeks or even MONTHS without hearing from me.

Sound familiar?

Thank goodness for Facebook or I’d never catch up with some people. (Ugh… that’s just wrong.) I’ve already made a lot of progress where friends are concerned… but this year will be different. Better! This year, I’m putting friendly get-togethers and phone calls on a calendar and scheduling them like any other important appointment… because at the end of the day (or at the end of my life!) they are just as important. I don’t want to let my amazing friendships just fade out.

Many of my friends, I’ve realized, are people I’ve met while doing the things I love. I have gym friends, dancing friends, karaoke friends, sci-fi movie friends, charity friends, self-help seminar friends, nutrition friends, new-agey friends, sorority friends, school friends, friends of friends, and friends that I’ve just randomly connected with at the oddest times. (My best friend, Jen, met me while I was on a first date with some guy over 12 years ago… can’t even remember his name now.)

I understand that I can’t keep everyone as a close friend all the time because people ARE busy after all. But I think connecting with friends is like reconnecting with oneself… and that’s an important part of living a balanced life.

Love you, my friends 🙂

~Z